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Expanding Your Circle of Influence

Expanding Your Circle of Influence

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ideas, concepts and techniques that will help us as sales professionals reach out into the marketplace
ideas, concepts and techniques that will help us as sales professionals reach out into the marketplace

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Published by: SUCCESS STARTS NOW on May 22, 2008
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Expanding Your Circle of Influence

BY: PAUL SCHWEEN Today I’m going to share with you some ideas, concepts and techniques that will help us as sales professionals reach out into the marketplace. How do we more effectively network? What resources are available to us and how do we expand our own network of influence or, as I like to refer to as, our immediate circle of influence? In other words, networking. What resources can we as top producing sales professionals utilize in order to go above and beyond those resources provided by our organization? What specifically can we do personally to extend our immediate circle of influence and to eventually act as the circle of influence to others? And on a professional level, what organizations and resources presently exist that are designed to help sales professionals reach in the marketplace? That’s what we’re here to discuss today. How do we market ourselves? Let’s start off by discussing our number one resource and that, of course, is ourselves. How do we extend our reach into the marketplace? Well, simply put, you need to identify your own circle of influence or, as I like to put it, your immediate circle of influence. What makes up that circle? Well, it’s obviously your friends, family and business constituents. The challenge is how to identify these people. It’s said that the average American knows over 200 people and I would venture to guess that sales people know even more. I’d go so far to say that 250 or 300. With that in mind, if you put the math to it, you’re a friend of a friend for nearly 40,000 if not 90,000 people. Now, ladies and gentlemen, that’s a pretty large circle of influence. The problem is, how do you identify these people? Well, if you recall, in our program, we talked about a little exercise or a little worksheet that I call the memory jogger list. I would suggest you go through this exercise and do precisely what I recommend all top producers do and that is identify your immediate circle of influence. If you don’t have this worksheet, simply click the button below and I’ll email you the memory jogger list.

Let’s now have a look at some of the networking organizations that are out there. The two that I’m most familiar with that have a large presence throughout the United States, first and foremost, is Business Network International, or BNI. This is a well-established organization, highly recommended. Upside is, it’s been around for a long time, regimented procedures, well-grounded. If there is a downside, I know that there are fees normally associated with getting involved with this organization. Another good organization is, Letips. They also are a nationally recognized networking group that meets regularly and I highly recommend them as well. They have a very good show rate meaning their attendance is good. Their groups are diverse and they just run a tight operation. I like the chambers simply because they’re normally do-gooders of the community. These people are well established, well grounded in the community. They normally have very good reputations and, simply put, these are the kind of people you want to associate with. Network organizations can certainly help you expand your reach into the market place and the way to measure up whether or not the one you’re looking at is a quality networking group is, a. If attendance is consistent, b. they limit the number of people from certain vertical markets. It’s not wise to have five chiropractors, three florists and five insurance agents all competing in the same networking organization. Networking clubs and organizations need to be balanced. Let us now briefly take a look at some of the organizations out there that can help us as sales professionals extend our reach into the marketplace. Certainly generational companies have advantages over others. Two of them that we find useful are Info USA and Zapdata.com. These organizations use SIC codes and sophisticated search engines that will allow you to target-market your audience. Info USA is especially known for sales genie software. If you have not had an opportunity to look at it, take a peek. This organization has developed software that will empower you enable you to not only identify your market with SIC codes but then geographically and demographically hone in and map out your territory and literally laser target where you can find your clients or who you consider candidates for your products and service. We also like Zapdata.com. These folks use very sophisticated SIC codes that drill down not just two, four, six… but up to 8-digit SIC codes. With this software, you can really track how effective your searches are. By changing up the variables, you can, in essence, over a period of

time, literally create profiles that will enable you and empower you to consistently drill down into a vertical marketplace and find those prospects that are most suitable for your product and service. I’d also like to bring up Decks Online, a free service that provides basically a search engine online tapping into most of the yellow page publications and white page publications. They too provide a variety of variables that you can use in order to laser target your market. There are a couple more resources that should be mentioned when considering how to effectively extend our reach into the marketplace. Those resources are the internet and local publications. Let’s for a moment speak of two publications that we in the organization find extremely useful in helping us find potential candidates for our product and services. I’m very fond of the business journal. I think it’s one of the finest publications throughout the United States. It effectively keeps sales professionals and business owners and large corporations in tune with what is happening in the local market. The best thing about the business journal is their monthly publication listing all of the top companies in a given vertical market. At the end of the year, they compile these lists and produce something called the book of lists. This is far beyond – the most accurate up-todate lists of local businesses that rank high in each of their respective vertical markets. I can’t begin to emphasize just how effective and how accurate this information is. Certainly a resource for any sales professional. You’ll also find these clubs and other up-to-date information on local community and the local papers like the New Times – these are monthly publications that are distributed in most large metropolitan areas. I find that particular resource is especially good in finding those off-shoot leaves organizations and news that generally isn’t buried in the local papers. And finally, last but certainly not least is the internet. Of course, there’s just a plethora of information that is to be found there. There are, however, two or three sites that I have found to be especially intriguing because of their ability to target specialized niches. Two of the publications – the directory of association and directory of directories – were formally publications that could only be found in a library. Now there are virtual online counterparts that can be found at marketingresource.com and resourcelinks.net. These

two sites are really interesting. I can’t really give the details of how these sites work exactly but it would behoove one to take a peek because these sites have the ability to laser target certain niches which for many people is a very special and useful tool. I also like blogging.com. Of course, bloggers know the value of blogging – it enables you to reach a specific market. People are interested in what you’re doing and vice versa. There’s also the who’s who list, now found at cambridgewhoswho.com. This will help you target executives if you so desire. The internet is one of the most powerful tools out there to assist sales professionals. I hope the resources that I’ve listed here are going to be useful to you. But please remember that your number one resource is truly you. It’s your circle of influence and your ability to politely and professionally tap into that network and discretely ask them for help in marketing your product or services.

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